Interview to Manuel Lopez, Iberian «Pata Negra» ham expert:
I’m 43 years old. I’m from Barcelona. I’m «tuner hams». I am married and have a son, Mauro (2). Policy? Whoever has the most to help those who have less. Not believing in God, I believe in the social values of Christianity. Seeing and feeling, know what hams will be optimal
Spain produces 40 million annually of ham legs… of which only half a million are Iberian pork …of which one fifth are more than most. And about this, nobody knows more than this man, since he was 14 he has touched and opened hams and more hams and sausages store of his family in the Boqueria. He then earned his master MBA and applied it into he likes more in the world: the pure bellota Iberian ham. He seeks that we will learn about ham as well as about wines: their vintages, -according to the amounts of bellota-, the nuances of flavor into same ham leg … Details than he explains very well in tastings organized at his store in Barcelona, Reserva Ibérica.
How many hams have you cut into your life?
Three per day for 25 years … Something like 27,000 hams! Would I cut to you a «lonchita» of this Iberian leg?
Why I like so much the Iberian?
Because it has umami.
What is «umami»?
The fifth taste. It was discovered by a Japanese researcher studying some algae.
Describe the taste.
Beyond the salty, sweet, bitter and sour, it is addictive … Try this ham!
It’s a unique taste, singular, different: we have here a gastronomic treasure!
What ham you just give me?
A slice (chopped fine) of most excellent qualityIberian ham.
How is a slice «well cut»?
Finely sliced. And short. To fit whole into mouth and melt his fat … What a shame not to cut correctly a great ham!
What does it mean «sublime quality»?
The ham from Iberian pig, bred in pasture , neutered, that has fed grass and acorns, which has run and has trotted, sacrificed at the right time (January is the best month), and whose leg is salted, consolidated , Kiln dry and matured in the cellar at the precise terms …
And not all Iberian ham is like it?
No, because there are recebo Iberian ham (pasture. acorn …and supplemented with forage), rhere are bait field ham (field without acorn and only forahe) and there are bait ham (feedlot and forage).
Can you tell difference between each one?
Of course! So it should be specified by law the great distinction between the pasturage Iberian ham and industry Iberian ham .
How do you achieve sublime quality?
Breeding a Iberian pig at pasture, among oaks, that eats only grass and acorns, sacrifice it at the right time and cure him. in perfect conditions. Is what I do myself!
I supervise and I select the best pieces.
Is that being «hams tuner»?
In France there is a «tuner cheese», which guides aging cheese for optimal pieces … I do that with the legs of Iberian ham, and so get the best.
And how many legs acquires per year?
About four thousand, for my establishment and to export to my partner in Japan.
Is known outside the Iberian ham?
Little yet, but once they taste it, they changed the face …Remain amazed!
Another lonchita, please …
Take it … Iberian ham outperforms three gastronomic pearls: caviar, foie gras and truffles.
Is better for their higher nuances of flavor and nutritional qualities.
Is very nutritious Iberian ham?
It is a food with many B vitamins and antioxidants. His fat stored oleic acid, olive oil extra virgin, which preserves our arteries. This quality distinguishes Iberian ham other ham hams like serrano, prosciutto …
Is this due to the breed of pig?
Yes, native pig breed with a genetic infiltrating the fat in meat making it as delicious! That fat absorbs and stores the essence of everything that pork eats.
Yes? Is the acorn shows in the taste?
Of course! And if there are oaks, stands the flavor note. And of aromatic shrubs. I once tasted a ham and noticed thyme! He had eaten too much.
Where to begin his work as «hams tuner»?
I locate small farmers that breed lovingly their Iberian pigs, and the artisanal dryers who try very carefully cure of their hams.
Are not most people do that?
A fifth of the 500,000 annual ham legs (on average). And there I go: I touch the legs, turned his curing …I touched and have cut many hams from 14 years that I know will which be great!
What are the designations of origin of ham?
Four: Huelva, Guijuelo, Dehesa de Extremadura and Pedroches Valley.
From which of these is your favorite ham?
Depends … The Huelva (that’s the brand Jabugo) has tones of nuts … The Guijuelo, sweet tones, of toasted sugar. The Extremadura is an intermediate …
How do you advise me to eat good Iberian ham?
Freshly cut. Taking it with your fingers. And you need nothing more.Ham is the eligible gold single of gastronomy!, As Arzak.
What drink to accompany it?
What better marida is a glass of champagne, which refreshes the mouth. Or a glass of fino or chamomile, great geographical pairings. Red wine, however … sends too mouth: no pairs well with Iberian ham!
What part of the leg is your favorite?
Because of its high intensity of flavor, I like the ham in the tip of the leg that touches the hipbone.
What are those white spots that I see sometimes in the ham meat?
Amino crystallized: great!
What is the best ham you remember tested throughout your life?
I was 15, I went hiking with friends, we stopped to eat in the forest, I pulled my homemade ham sandwich …And I have not forgotten that fabulous enjoyment!